NOTTINGHAMSHIRE V SURREY at Trent Bridge (SSCC1), 10-13 APRIL 2016

Whether by default or design, Surrey's curtain-raiser harks back to early days of the County Championship, which was first placed on a formal footing in 1890. Surrey won five out of the first six titles and in four of those years they got under way at, wait for it, Trent Bridge. Could it be an omen?

In the two seasons Surrey have been absent from Division One, Notts finished fourth (in 2014) and third (last year), notching up six wins in each. Indeed, they finished last summer as the form side, with five of their championship victories coming in the second half of the campaign.

Looking at the squad Nottinghamshire have announced, funny, but it seems as if Surrey and Notts have been separated for longer, such is the number of little-known faces in the Trent Bridge outfit's line-up. For instance, they now have two Taylors (three and they'd be Duran Duran). Brendan Taylor, a veteran of 23 Tests for Zimbabwe, averaged 34.14 with the bat in the champo last year; which was a combination of foul and famine for the 30-year-old opener, who chipped in with three hundreds - two in April, against Middlesex and Hampshire, and a valiant 152 in the defeat at Taunton in June.

The new faces, from Surrey's perspective, in the Outlaws' attack are Brett Hutton, a 23-year-old seamer, who, in just a dozen first-class appearances has taken 43 wickets at an average of 25.83; not to mention his 423 runs with the bat at 26.43. Then there's Jake Ball, 25, who rose to prominence last summer (with 39 championship wickets at 28.74 apiece) and Luke Wood, a left-armer who continues to knock on the door. Notts' new overseas, Jackson Bird, a tall wicket-to-wicket quick from Tasmania, is set to make his debut for the county just a month after bagging a career best 7-45 against New South Wales.

The Trent Bridge outfit will be an even more formidable opponent when Alex Hales and Stuart Broad are available, but, it won't all be plain sailing for Surrey over the next four days with the likes of Gurney, Patel, Read, Wessels and James Taylor around.

Tom Curran starts the championship season with 99 first-class career wickets, while Matthew Dunn, if he plays, is just four behind with 95. Steven Davies has 9,955 f-c runs. For Notts, Brendan Taylor (7,449 runs) is closing in on 7,500 first-class and Harry Gurney goes into this contest with 192 f-c wickets. Steven Mullaney is just one scalp away from a 50th wicket in first-class cricket and Samit Patel is only five shy of a 250th.

The inclusion of Ravi Rampaul has confounded those pundits who viewed the 31-year-old West Indian as a one-day / T20 signing; presumably on the basis that he hasn't played first-class cricket for nearly three years. The fourth seamer's spot appears to be for Rampaul and Matthew Dunn to argue over. Similarly, the decision as to who gets the wicketkeeping gloves will be between Ben Foakes and Gary Wilson.

Northamptonshire 22-25 Sep 2015 Match Drawn The Oval 410 & 125-5 110 & 514
Lancashire 14-17 Sep 2015 Match Drawn Old Trafford 480 & 283-7d 272 & 195-7
Derbyshire 1-4 Sep 2015 Won By An Inns & 98 Runs The Oval 560 313 & 149
Gloucestershire 21-24 Aug 2015 Match Drawn Bristol 349-6 233
Essex 7-10 Aug 2015 Won By 3 Wickets Colchester 346 & 314-7 369 & 289-9d

When making predictions, particularly at this time of the year, my first thought is to check the weather forecast which, unfortunately for those fans who have booked three nights in Nottingham, suggests days two and three will be lucky to escape the rain. So, everything points to a clamour for bonus points. Assuming the Currans and Mark Footitt make the most of the early season swing Trent Bridge invariably offers up in April, the key man for me is Steven Davies, who limbered up for the new campaign by hitting 115 and 109 against Loughborough MCCU. Expect a draw.

B.Taylor, S.Mullaney, M.Lumb, J.Taylor, R.Wessels, S.Patel, C.Read (capt, wk), B.Hutton, J.Ball, H.Gurney and J.Bird.

David Millns and Tim Robinson. Of the joint total of 18 County Championship games involving Surrey, in which Millns and Robinson have officiated, just three have been won by Surrey. Combined leg-before-o-meter: 19.3% of dismissals.

8-11 Jul 2013 Match Drawn The Oval Surrey Bat 198 & 395-8d 410
15-18 May 2013 Lost By 114 Runs Trent Bridge Surrey Field 207 & 144 274 & 191
4-7 Sep 2012 Won By 195 Runs The Oval Surrey Bat 269 & 304 227 & 151
18-21 Jul 2012 Match Drawn Trent Bridge Surrey Field 252-6 328
17-19 Sep 2008 Lost By An Inns & 143 Runs The Oval Surrey Bat 267 & 122 532
11-14 Jul 2008 Match Drawn Trent Bridge Notts Field 403 218 & 372-6
26-29 Jul 2005 Match Drawn Trent Bridge Surrey Bat 136 & 292-6d 226 & 169-8
6-9 May 2005 Lost By An Inns & 71 Runs The Oval Surrey Bat 217 & 404 692-7d
13-15 Aug 2003 Won By An Inns & 211 Runs Whitgift School Surrey Bat 693 240 & 242
9-11 May 2003 Won By An Inns & 6 Runs Trent Bridge Notts Bat 393 211 & 176
1-2 Sep 1999 Won By 10 Wickets The Oval Notts Bat 199 & 153-0 115 & 233
19-21 Aug 1998 Won By 7 Wickets Trent Bridge Surrey Field 270 & 72-3 213 & 125
27-30 Jun 1997 Won By 131 Runs The Oval Surrey Bat 201-9d & 123-6d 73-1d & 120
22-26 Aug 1996 Match Drawn Trent Bridge Notts Bat 128-4d & 53-0 446-9d & Forfeited
20-24 Jul 1995 Won By 171 Runs Guildford Notts Field 239 & 528-9d 324 & 272
21-23 Jul 1994 Won By An Inns & 231 Runs Trent Bridge Notts Bat 604-4d 125 & 248
29-31 Jul 1993 Won By 3 Wickets The Oval Surrey Bat 228 & 147-7 68 & 306
7-10 Sep 1992 Lost By 5 Wickets Trent Bridge Surrey Bat 207 & 411 357 & 262-5
21-23 Jul 1992 Lost By 3 Wickets The Oval Notts Field 333-4d & 219-7d 201-2d & 352-7
4-6 Jun 1991 Match Drawn The Oval Notts Field 302-3d & 221-1d 250-2d & 33-1